Green Manure Crops

Using the green manure crops method can transform farm soil fertility in a short time, including composting, four old standby green manure crops, and specialty and double-duty crop suggestions.

| September/October 1986

Garden magic from John Jeavons and Bill Bruneau.  

Green manuring — growing green manure crops especially for their organic matter and ability to improve the soil — can dramatically build up poor and exhausted soils and maintain the fertility of better ones. Let me give you two examples from our own experience. When we first started Ecology Action of the Mid-peninsula in 1974, we were minifarming a site in the Stanford Industrial Park that had no topsoil or subsoil: It had all been scraped off in anticipation of future construction. Eight years later, we had improved the soil by using green manure crops to a depth of over two feet!

Then in 1982, we moved to our current steep hillside location in northern California. Its thin rocky topsoil had few available nutrients. Indeed, some feel the site approximated marginal Third World growing conditions. But now, four years later, it is becoming a beautiful and productive garden/minifarm.

In both cases, we were able to dramatically improve the soil through deep cultivation, intensive plant spacing, the addition of composts and aged manures . . . and a continuous program of growing green manure crops.

Growing Green Manure Crops

Green manuring will help your soil in many ways. Perhaps most important, it boosts your plot's organic matter (O.M.) level. And a high O.M. level (2.5 to 4%)

— keeps nutrients from leaching down beyond reach of crops,

Elizabeth Hollingsworth_2
8/2/2010 9:48:53 PM

i looked on the internt & the Ecology website, but can't fnd seeds for agricultural mustard. does anyone know if/where these are available? and more growing info.

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